Leaf: Alternate, simple, elliptical to oblong or obovate, 2 to 4 inches long, entire, veins are parallel but near edges of leaf turn and follow the edge, shiny green above, may be pale pubescent beneath, petiole short and pubescent.
Flower: Very small and inconspicuous, pale yellow-green, bell-shaped, appearing in leaf axils in late spring after the leaves.
Fruit: A small (1/4 inch) round drupe at first red but later turning black, juicy flesh, ripens in late summer.
Twig: Slender, reddish brown with gray pubescence; buds naked and tan with fuzz; 3 bundle scars, lacking thorns.
Bark: Smooth gray-brown with a few obvious slightly raised lenticels, may become shallowly fissured on larger stems.
Form: Upright shrub or small tree (to 20 feet) with a spreading, open crown.
Looks like: Carolina buckthorn - common buckthorn - mountain holly
Additional Range Information: Frangula alnus is planted in the USDA hardiness zones shown above and may seed into the landscape. Download the full-size PDF map.
External Links: USDAFS FEIS Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2019 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson; Silvics reprinted from Ag Handbook 654; range map source information